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The Human Rights Enterprise Political Sociology, State Power, and Social Movements von Armaline, William T. (eBook)

  • Erscheinungsdatum: 03.02.2015
  • Verlag: Polity
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The Human Rights Enterprise

Why do powerful states like the U.S., U.K., China, and Russiarepeatedly fail to meet their international legal obligations asdefined by human rights instruments? How does global capitalismaffect states' ability to implement human rights,particularly in the context of global recession, state austerity,perpetual war, and environmental crisis? How are political andcivil rights undermined as part of moves to impose security andsurveillance regimes? This book presents a framework for understanding human rights asa terrain of struggle over power between states, private interests,and organized, "bottom-up" social movements. Theauthors develop a critical sociology of human rights focusing onthe concept of the human rights enterprise :the process through which rights are defined and realized. Whilestates are designated arbiters of human rights according to humanrights instruments, they do not exist in a vacuum. Politicalsociology helps us to understand how global neoliberalism andpowerful non-governmental actors (particularly economic actors suchas corporations and financial institutions) deeply affectstates' ability and likelihood to enforce human rightsstandards. This book offers keen insights for understanding rights claims,and the institutionalization of, access to, and restrictions onhuman rights. It will be invaluable to human rights advocates, andundergraduate and graduate students across the social sciences. William T. Armaline is Associate Professor of Justice Studies atSan José State University. Davita Silfen Glasberg is Professor of Sociology at theUniversity of Connecticut. Bandana Purkayastha is Professor of Sociology and Asian AmericanStudies at the University of Connecticut. She is the AmericanSociological Association's representative to theInternational Sociological Association (2014-2018).


    Format: ePUB
    Kopierschutz: AdobeDRM
    Seitenzahl: 224
    Erscheinungsdatum: 03.02.2015
    Sprache: Englisch
    ISBN: 9780745688183
    Verlag: Polity
    Größe: 403 kBytes
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The Human Rights Enterprise

The Human Rights Enterprise and a Critical Sociology of Human Rights


As teachers, we share the experience of students asking about the "point" of human rights in the United States, since no one seems to know or talk about them, and since they carry little weight in US courts. While we disagree with the notion that formal international human rights are irrelevant, we owe our students and readers the courtesy of honest reflection. The United States is far from internalizing and employing international human rights practice, and has a contradictory relationship to human rights as a body of international law.

This book goes into production as a leaked Senate Intelligence Committee report now details the extent and highly illegal nature of the CIA's use of "harsh interrogation techniques" - torture - at Guantánamo Bay and other secret "black sites" across the world, following the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York City. The Guantánamo Bay detention facility is in itself a direct challenge to the civil and political human rights to due process 1 and protection from arbitrary arrest and detention. 2 Of the 154 people still imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay from 22 different countries, 76 of them have long since been cleared for release by the US government, and 45 of them are being held even though the US government admitted that it lacked the necessary evidence to bring formal charges of any kind. In total, the US has imprisoned 779 people there - at least 21 have been children, the youngest of whom was only 13 years old (ACLU 2014). Techniques of torture used on suspects and detainees at Guantánamo and other detention/rendition sites "included waterboarding, which produces a sensation of drowning, stress positions, sleep deprivation for up to 11 days at a time, confinement in a cramped box, slaps and slamming detainees into walls" (Watkins, Landay, and Taylor 2014). The international community has repeatedly condemned CIA torture programs as a violation of international law (UDHR, Article 5; ICCPR, Article 7), but up until this point the US Justice department, CIA, and Department of Defense have argued vehemently that the interrogation techniques were legal, and did not amount to torture ("cruel and unusual punishment") as defined by the 8th Amendment of the US Constitution. Previous arguments by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel stated that methods like waterboarding were not torture because those carrying out the interrogations "didn't have the specific intent of inflicting severe pain or suffering" (Watkins, Landay, and Taylor 2014).

However, the newly leaked report punches holes in these already questionable legal claims. It includes evidence that "The CIA used interrogation methods that weren't approved by the Justice Department of CIA headquarters. The agency impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making regarding the program. The CIA actively evaded or impeded congressional oversight of the program. The agency hindered oversight of the program by its own inspector general's office" (Watkins, Landay, and Taylor 2014). In addition, the report calls into question the thesis of former Bush administration officials and award-winning film Zero Dark Thirty - what comedian Bill Maher rightfully called a "despicable product placement for torture" - that techniques like waterboarding were somehow effective in the pursuit and prosecution of Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders. Indeed, the defenders of US torture programs in pursuit of the disastrous "war on terror" in the Middle East and North Africa cannot argue their efficacy, even on the now tired basis of "national security" and "keeping people safe." These programs, and the efforts of Bush and Obama administration officials to passionately defend their legality and legitimacy, at the same time refusing to even co

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